Beta Release

Raise your rates and escape the grindwithout leaving code behind.

Learn the tactics thousands of developers have used to find the time and freedom to pursue their side projects and spend time with their families.

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I raised my rate 467% in three years.

Hey there! I'm Elliot Bonneville, a contracting web developer living in Rhode Island and working remotely. I love coding, and I don’t plan on ever stopping.

At one point, though, I wasn’t so sure of that. After four years without any significant raises, I needed to make more money.

I knew that something had to change. I tried launching a startup, running a digital marketing business, and even technical writing.

It wasn’t long before I found out that all of those other jobs made me miserable, and all I wanted to do was code. I hated spending every day drowning in meetings and dragging JIRA tickets around, cold calling lawyers, or trying to teach people over Zoom.

So I went back to programming.

But when I learned when my wife and I were expecting, I realized I had to figure out a way to make more money, while doing what I loved. I knew it was possible, because other people did it, but what I didn’t know was how.

It took a lot of frustration, anxiety, and coming within 24 hours of missing rent, but after some truly desperate times...

I doubled my rate.

And then I doubled it again. And then I raised it some more, just for good measure.

It turns out that getting more money for the work you love to do isn’t all that hard. You just have to know how. But...

The devil’s in the details.

If I told you all you had to do in order to double your rate was:

  • Change jobs frequently (without being seen as a job hopper)
  • Be willing to walk away from offers
  • Have a specialty
  • Know your true worth
  • Be confident on the phone
  • Negotiate aggressively

...would you believe me? Well, it’s all pretty reasonable stuff. But just from that list, can you actually go raise your rates? I couldn’t. A lot of people talk about these things online, but what they were saying wasn’t enough.

And that’s why I wrote this book.

It’s the guide I wish somebody had handed me five years ago. In it, I share everything I learned along the way, from how to figure out how much you should be charging, to why you should talk to recruiters, to whether it’s better to bill as a corporation or as an individual.

Fair warning, the advice in this book isn’t for everybody. This is the guide I wish somebody had given me five years ago, and the person I was then may not be the person you are today.

This book is for you if you...

  • Have at least two or three years of programming experience
  • Love software development, but see work as a means to an end
  • Would like to stay at an individual contributor level
  • Are actively looking for ways to make more money
  • Are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and learn hard new things

It's not for you if you...

  • Are a brand new software developer or haven't found your first role yet
  • Value what you're doing and/or who you're doing it with more than the money
  • Are comfortable with your current income or are not motivated by money
  • Aren’t willing to consider contracting as an alternative to full-time employment

Okay. Still with me?

Here’s the deal: every developer has two jobs: writing code, and finding people to pay them to write code. Most developers know about the first job, but far fewer developers realize they should be working the second one too.

What does that second job look like? Well, as the old sales adage goes: good marketing and a bad product beat a great product with bad marketing.

Learn to market and sell yourself, and you will make more money.

Please note that is this a beta release, and as such is no representative of the final product. I'll be doing high-level restructuring and additions / deletions in response to feedback as it comes in, so expect typos and grammatical errors in this unpolished version.

Are you ready?

This is me. I'm only including my ugly mug because they say it boosts conversion rates. I'm also supposed to be smiling, but look – at least you get a picture. Don't push your luck.

Table of Contents

Introduction
6
Chapter 1: I 5x’d My Rate In Three Years
8
$30/hr: inbound via Stack Overflow
10
$30/hr to $35/hr: referral
11
$95/hr: inbound from Stack Overflow
12
$60/hr: social networking
14
$110/hr: recruiter
17
$120/hr: recruiter
21
$140/hr: recruiter
22
$175 to $225/hr: the one that got away (recruiter)
24
Conclusion
25
Chapter 2: Quit Your Job And Start Contracting
27
Don't be a job hopper, be a contractor
32
Conclusion
33
Chapter 3: Find Work By Talking To Recruiters
35
Recruiters look for the highest return-on-investment candidates
36
Only talk to high-level recruiters
37
Confidence is a proxy for value
39
Become confident on the phone
40
Chapter 4: Learn To Negotiate
45
Recruiting agencies profit when you lower your rate
45
Charging more makes you worth more
46
Be prepared to bargain
47
Compromise on other things beside rate
48
Play multiple offers against each other
49
Offers are limited-time only
51
Don’t ghost recruiters
52
Conclusion
53
Chapter 5: Optimize Your Profile To Get Attention
56
Optimize your resume
57
Instant Disqualifiers
59
Don’t bother with auto-apply or instant-apply roles
61
Optimize your LinkedIn profile
62
Workshop your headline and most recent job title
62
Have a lot of connections
64
Set your location to a major tech hub
65
Make your profile page stand out
65
Get recommendations from people you’ve worked with in the past
67
Fill out the rest of your profile
68
Resources for further reading on LinkedIn profile optimization
68
Chapter 6: Don’t Work With Startups Or Household Names
70
Don’t work with startups
70
Taking equity is becoming a micro venture capitalist
72
Empirically, equity is not as valuable as it seems
74
Startup benefits are the cheese in the mousetrap
76
Don’t work with household names
77
The Goldilocks Zone is big companies that aren’t FAANGs
79
Talent begets talent; therefore, go where talent is not
79
Smaller companies are more able to negotiate
80
Live in a low cost-of-living area, work in a high cost-of-living area
81
Conclusion
82
Chapter 7: Start Your Own Contracting Company
83
Billing corp-to-corp results in higher earnings
84
Set up your business correctly
85
Read low-risk contracts yourself
86
Contracts Are Negotiable
87
Payment terms
89
Termination clause
90
Non-solicitation clause
91
Non-compete clause
91
Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
91
Never Give Notice Before You Sign The Paperwork
92
Conclusion
92
Chapter 8: Build Your Network
94
Do Astonishingly Good Work
96
Build Relationships With Colleagues And Bosses
97
Stay Front-Of-Mind With Contacts As Time Goes By
98
Your Network Has A Half-Life
99
Look For Mentors
100
Chapter 9: Improve Your Mindset – Yes, You Can Charge More
102
Employers Want Business Value, Not Engineers
104
Many Limits Are Self-Imposed
105
Be Wary Of Plateauing And Local Maxima
106
Confidence and skill exist on separate axes
110
Chapter 10: Don’t Be A Commodity
112
Find A Niche
113
Dig Moats
114
Build Credibility
115
Conclusion
117
Step 1: Ask yourself if you really believe you can raise your rates
118
Step 2: Decide on your career story
119
Step 3: Update your resume and your LinkedIn
120
Step 4: Start talking with recruiters as practice
121
Step 5: Negotiate well
122
Step 6: Do astonishingly good work
123
Step 7: Network and build credibility
123
Step 8: Let me know
123

Refactor Your Career Community

By buying the book, you'll also receive access to the Refactor Your Career community, where like-minded developers share what they learn and help each other to reach that next level together. You'll receive this access for free, because I believe it's important to share your journey with others.

Sometimes, what you need is a little advice or a friendly push from somebody else who's been there before to get yourself to where you need to go. By building relationships, you'll also be able to grow together, refer each other, and learn from one another in ways that it's impossible to do alone.

Remember, you're the average of the five people that you surround yourself with. Not only is it pleasant to talk with other people that share your ambitions and goals, but you'll also set yourself up for success by spending time with people that have already succeeded.

It's a friendly, helpful, and abundance-minded community that's happy to answer all of your questions. We'd love to have you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do you have a refund policy?

I have a no-questions-asked refund policy. If you decide this book wasn't what you were expecting or you're not 100% satisfied with what you find, just shoot me an email and I'll send you a full refund.

Q: What if I can't afford the book?

If you can't afford this book or you're out of a job because of COVID or related problems, just shoot me an email and I'll send you a copy free of charge. All I ask is that if you get a raise as a result of the advice in this book, you buy a copy of it in return.

Q: What if I don't have that much experience?

If you have less than a couple of years of experience, you might find it more difficult to use the tactics in this book – they're designed people who already have something of a resume. That said, it's never too early to start thinking about your future and you'll get a lot out of it regardless.

Q: Do I have to be willing to become a contractor?

A big part of the strategy presented in this book revolves around changing jobs frequently (between one and three times per year), and it's difficult to do this credibly without being a contractor. I don't advise buying this book if you aren't willing to consider alternative methods of employment.

Q: I have a different question.

Just shoot me an email at my first name (Elliot) dot my last name (Bonneville) at Gmail.com. By the way, that's a statement, not a question.

Are you ready to make more money?